At a glance: Sierra Leone

First children’s newspaper launched in Sierra Leone

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sierra Leone/2006/Savage
Children’s Forum Network President Bamine Boye at the launch of ‘Pikin News’ in Sierra Leone.

By Alusine Savage

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 18 December 2006 – In an effort to further promote child participation and ensure that the voices of children are heard in national discourse, UNICEF has helped launched ‘Pikin News’ (which translates as ‘Children’s News’), a newspaper developed and produced exclusively by children.

Children’s Forum Network National President Bamine Boye described the 8 December launch of the newspaper in Freetown as an epic event for the children of this country.

“Children deserve to be heard, as they themselves have their own unique ways of portraying issues that affect them,” said Bamine, stressing that social polices have not benefited children in the past despite government efforts to ensure that they have a stake in national plans.

“‘Pikin News’ is here to highlight some of these social ills and to serve as an advocacy tool, which can influence policy decisions for children,” noted Bamine.

Pioneering project

The idea for the newspaper came about in 2002 at a workshop for children from across the country organized by UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. The children suggested creating a newspaper to advocate for their rights and raise awareness on issues affecting them through poems, articles and letters.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Sierra Leone/2006/Savage
Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Memunatu Koroma, formally launched the children’s newspaper, ‘Pikin News’.

In partnership with the ministry, UNICEF provided technical support to help realize this pioneering project.

‘Pikin News’ is the first newspaper in Sierra Leone to be written, edited, planned and produced entirely by children. In its pages, young people discuss their hopes, dreams, fears and ideas.

A symbol of hope

In her remarks during the launch ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Memunatu Koroma, said the newspaper is a giant step forward in giving children a stronger voice in a country emerging from social strife  where children have been the primary victims.

“Children’s potential is critical in national development,” said UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone Geert Cappelaere. “Their commitment to this project has been inspiring and is a symbol of hope as this next generation grow up to become decision-makers and leaders of this country. I am very proud of them.

“A newspaper that is entirely developed and produced by children will be a useful tool in calling upon government and its development partners to deliver on their commitment in meeting the Millennium Development Goals for children,” added Mr. Cappelaere.


 

 

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